The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up this weekend, with The Birth of a Nation sweeping the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic film and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award.
As always, the festival was awash with the bizarre, the poignant and the game-changing. Here are the 11 films that, as they’re released over the next year or two, you should be sure not to miss:
The Birth of a Nation
Nate Parker’s feature film about Nat Turner, the revolutionary Virginia man who led a slave rebellion in the 1800s, set a record in its sale to Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million. But that’s not the only reason to see it; Parker is poised to hold the industry’s feet to the fire, and force film studio bigwigs to reckon with themselves—and why they’ve shut people of color out for so long.
Director Kelly Reichardt’s film stars Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart and Lily Gladstone, who’s being heralded as one of the festival’s breakout performers. The film tells the quiet story of three Montana women, each finding passion in the most mundane of daily-life places.
Director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s documentary tells the incredible story of Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh, who escaped a planned forced marriage after posting a music video called Brides for Sale to YouTube. Alizadeh, who was granted a scholarship to a high school in Utah, defied both her family’s wishes and the law, which forbids women from singing publicly without the government’s approval.
This slow-burning drama built up a lot of buzz before Sundance, mostly thanks to its titular star, Ellen Page. Page plays a drifter who takes a young toddler from a negligent mom, then brings her to the loving arms of Allison Janney, who believes she’s the child’s grandmother. Tallulah was written and directed by Orange is the New Black‘s Sian Heder, and was purchased by Netflix out of Sundance.
A documentary about New York City’s underground ballroom scene, in which LGBTQ youth of color “walk” to compete for trophies and prizes, Kiki explores the thriving world of modern-day voguing, a la Paris Is Burning. The film was co-created by Sara Jordeno and Twiggy Pucci Garcon, a leader in New York’s Kiki scene.
Manchester by the Sea
Writer-director Kenneth Lonergan draws outstanding performances from Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in this feature film about facing the past, reconciliation and duty. Affleck plays a handyman called upon to take in his deceased brother’s (Chandler) son, bringing him back to a town he hoped to leave behind.
If you’ve been waiting for a story—onscreen, in print, or otherwise–to take a stark, unflinching look at gun violence in this country, Dark Night is it. Created in response to the 2012 shooting at an Aurora, CO movie theater, Dark Night is a combination of feature and documentary, a thoughtful examination of what has led us to the state of affairs we’re currently in.